Security Council on the UN - Debate on Cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security (HR Ashton)
Statement by Mr. Michael Spindelegger, Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria
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New York, 4 May 2010
Thank you Mr. President for organizing today’s meeting, which gives me the great pleasure to welcome High Representative Catherine Ashton to her first briefing to the Council.
The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in December brought about significant changes for the European Union, and especially for its foreign and security policy. With the strengthening of the office of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, which will be supported by the European External Action Service, the European Union will be able to speak to its partners with a stronger and more unified voice. Among those partners, the United Nations occupy a preeminent place. As stipulated by the EU Treaty the EU’s actions on the international scene shall be guided inter alia by the respect for the principles of the UN Charter.
The challenges we are facing in the 21st century – resolving and preventing conflicts, combating terrorism and organized crime, and preventing nuclear proliferation, to name but a few – clearly show that the UN cannot operate in isolation but require cooperation and concerted action by its international partners.
The Security Council has recently reaffirmed the important contribution of regional and subregional organizations to the peaceful settlement of local disputes and preventive diplomacy in the Presidential Statement adopted in January under the Chinese Presidency. Due to their understanding of particular conflicts and their respective root causes as well as their specific capabilities, regional organizations can have a comparative advantage for addressing crisis situations. In addition, local and also regional ownership are often key to the success of such efforts. The importance of active participation of civil society has to be highlighted in this respect.
In the field of international peace and security, the firm and well-established cooperation between the UN and the EU remains crucial. With its Common Security and Defence Policy, the European Union makes an important contribution and has developed significant capacities for conflict prevention and conflict resolution. The EU is currently engaged in 13 military operations and civilian missions and Austria contributes personnel to six of them. The EU’s commitment to support the UN and the Security Council in its responses to threats to international peace and security is translated in the Union’s support to all current UN peacekeeping operations.
Concrete examples of cooperation include the Horn of Africa, notably Somalia, where the EU is actively engaged in anti-Piracy efforts in order to protect shipments by the World Food Programme to the Somali population. Equally, the newly established EU training mission in Uganda – aimed at supporting the Somali transnational federal government by providing training to 2000 Somali security forces – is conducted in close coordination between the EU and the UN. Also in civilian crises management the EU is interested in a close cooperation with the UN and other international actors, as in Kosovo or Bosnia and Herzegowina, in Afghanistan, or in Guinea-Bissau.
When the Security Council debated the subject of cooperation of the UN with regional organizations in January, it agreed that an increased cooperation with regional organizations also contributes towards a coherent and effective implementation of Council resolutions by the wider UN membership. This is certainly true for the cooperation between the Council and the European Union which has a strong interest to add to the Council’s work in many areas of mutual concern.
Here, as an example of the important role the EU is playing in translating Security Council resolutions into its own actions, I would like to point out two thematic issues: the protection of civilians in situations of armed conflict and women, peace and security. SC Resolution 1894 on the protection of civilians explicitly stresses the importance of consultation and cooperation between the UN and regional organizations to improve the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The EU has reiterated its firm commitment and active engagement to enhance the protection of civilians on various occasions. CSDP missions have included important protection concerns in their mandates, in particular on women and children affected by armed conflict. The protection of civilians was the main objective of EUFOR/Chad, aimed at improving the security of refugees and internally displaced persons. Civilian CSDP missions, such as EUMM Georgia and EUPOL DRC, also have an important monitoring and reporting role in this regard. The EU makes a particular contribution to sustainable peace with its expertise in the area of the rule of law and human rights. In this regard, I welcome ongoing efforts in the EU framework to further integrate the protection of civilians into CSDP missions and operations, taking into account best practice identified by the UN in this area.
One of the lessons learned from the EU’s civilian and military operations is that missions become more effective through the mainstreaming of human rights and gender aspects, both in the planning and implementation phase. To this end, the EU has adopted various instruments relating to the implementation inter alia of SC Resolutions 1612 on children affected by armed conflict or 1325 on women peace and security in the context of our Common Security and Defence Policy. The EU is also actively supporting ongoing efforts to reinvigorate commitments on the 10th anniversary of Resolution 1325 in order to ensure effective implementation of this landmark Resolution.
On all of these issues, better exchange and sharing of best practices and lessons learned is crucial, both between the UN and regional organizations as well as among regional organizations themselves.
Another important example of constructive EU engagement in multilateral negotiations is the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which we have just opened. Nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and ensuring a responsible development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy - in countries wishing to develop their capacities in this field - represent key challenges today to which the European Union has found a common response despite the large spectrum of views of its Member States. Thus also in the sensitive field of nuclear cooperation the European Union is making a substantive contribution.
The Lisbon Treaty has simplified the international representation of the European Union. The External Action Service will help to enhance its strategic direction, coherence and effectiveness and further improve the EU’s cooperation with international partners, and in particular the United Nations.
I hope that your visit to the Council today, Baroness Ashton, will be the first in a series of regular appearances in this body.